Where does your health insurance come from? If you’re an American, odds are you get it through your employer. But that’s a relatively unique circumstance compared to the rest of the world. Why are Americans so much more likely to be insured through their employers? And is this a good way to insure people’s health? In this episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed Niskanen Center economist Ed Dolan to try to answer these questions.

Dolan argues employer-sponsored insurance is not effective. What are the negative effects of employer-sponsored insurance as Dolan sees them? Is the main problem one with health insurance or health care?


1- Dolan suggest that the problem of third-party payment is not unique to employer-sponsored insurance. What does he mean by that? To what extent does Dolan favor a single-payer scheme? (OK… that last one’s kind of a trick question…)


2- Why don’t employers have a greater incentive to monitor their employees’ health insurance providers to ensure they’re covering services of value? How might the system be made more incentive compatible?


3- What is the problem of “job lock,” and to what extent do you think this puts a damper on the American economy? On human flourishing?


4- Dolan suggests that an effective health care system might not be entirely market-based. To what extent is it possible to have a market-based health care system, according to Dolan?  Which parts of health care are markets not best able to handle?


5- What is universal catastrophic coverage, and how do Dolan and Roberts think it might replace the current scheme of employer-sponsored health insurance? To what extent are you convinced this would be a good solution? Explain.